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Top Lawmaker Says House Budget Will Grow & Nightly Roundup

By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – A top Republican leader says Texans are "waking up" to the cuts made by the Texas House and vows to add more revenue to the bare-bones proposal.

GOP Rep. Jim Pitts, who authored the budget bill in the House, said Tuesday that it could grow by as much as $5 billion before the legislative session ends in May. He said accounting tricks such as deferring payments and speeding up revenue collections were among the methods lawmakers would use to get more money.

Pitts made the comments two days after the House passed a bill that makes deep cuts in education, nursing homes, college grants and other programs.

Hispanic lawmakers sue state over Census

A group of Hispanic lawmakers has filed a preemptive lawsuit against the state over redistricting.

The Mexican American Legislative Caucus filed the suit Tuesday to prevent the use of 2010 Census numbers they say are flawed.

The suit alleges a substantial undercount of the state's Latino population, particularly those living in colonias along the Texas-Mexico border.

The lawsuit applies to redistricting maps that are being crafted by the Legislature for Congress, the Texas House and Senate and the State Board of Education.

Senate passes bill restricting HOA powers

The Texas Senate has passed a bill to curtail the powers of homeowners' associations.

The bill would make it harder for an association to foreclose on a homeowner for not paying dues and fees. Sellers of property within a homeowners' association would also have to disclose to new buyers any obligations due to the association.

Dallas Sen. Royce West authored the bill and said it was necessary to protect homeowners from abuses. If the bill passes the House and is signed by the governor, the law would also restrict homeowner associations from foreclosing on military personnel serving overseas.

Presently a homeowners' association does not have to notify a property owner of an outstanding debt and allows for a rapid home foreclosure. West said the bill would level the playing field.

Blockbuster In Bankruptcy Court

The future of Dallas-based Blockbuster is in the hands of 3 remaining bidders trying to buy the bankrupt movie-rental chain.

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, Dish Network, and a group of debt holders are the finalists in the auction process that began Tuesday morning in New York bankruptcy court, and could end this morning.

So far, Icahn's bid of $310 million leads the trio. Another bidder dropped out. And a joint offer from two liquidation firms never arrived.

The winner could keep the company going in full or part, or push the stop and eject button, liquidating assets of the one-time international movie rental leader.

A sale approval hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

Measles Reported In Tarrant County After 17 Year Absence

Tarrant County is reporting two cases of measles, the first confirmed cases in 17 years.

Officials say both patients are adults: a female in her 30's and an adult male who is a "household contact."

The County's chief epidemiologist says early indications are the female was exposed during a trip to Orlando in early March.

Houston health officials this week confirmed a case of measles in an 11 month old, also suspected of contracting the virus during a trip to Florida.

A measles outbreak in Minnesota has sickened 15 people. Health officials there say 12 cases originated in Kenya, one in Florida, and the latest in India.

Dallas County Health officials say they haven't had a case of measles reported in years. Officials say it's rare because of the high vaccination levels among the population.

Cost of Driving Up Over A Year Ago

The cost of owning and driving a car is up about three-and-a-half percent in an annual Triple-A study released today.

Dan Ronan, with Triple-A Texas says part of that increase is the obvious: the cost of gas.

Ronan: We've seen gas prices go up by more than 75 cents in just the last several months. So that's a very expensive component of that.

Ronan says another, somewhat surprising, factor is a 15% jump in the cost of tires.

Ronan says a car now costs an average 8,800 dollars to drive 15 thousand miles a year. Minivans and SUV's cost up to three thousand dollars more.